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UK Relaxes Telemedicine Rules – VetX International

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UK Relaxes Telemedicine Rules – VetX International

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In this week’s VetCrunch news roundup, we discuss the UK’s relaxation on telemedicine rules and leading trends at VMX 2023, we celebrate a record number of AVE graduates in Australia and announce that the Mind Matters’ Sarah Brown research grant is open for applications.

In a controversial decision, the UK has announced its relaxment of telemedicine rules.

The decision, approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on Thursday, will allow veterinary professionals to prescribe medicines over the internet without first needing an in-person appointment. However, veterinarians who don’t conduct a physical examination prior to prescription must ensure that a 24/7 physical exam and follow-up service are available if required.

The UK’s long-standing stance on telemedicine predates that of the Covid-19 pandemic, where telemedicine was temporarily permitted under certain limited circumstances.

Dr. Melissa Donald, the RCVS president, spoke out on the matter, acknowledging that not everyone is happy about the decision, however, she said that “Many, many hours of thought and consideration have been put into how it will affect veterinary practitioners across all sectors, and animal health and welfare on the ground, while ensuring that the guidance is legally sound and consistent with the current legislation.”

The RCVS’s decision has faced much scrutiny from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which has always been in favor of hands-on examinations in order to prescribe medicines, for the sake of animal welfare.

BVA president, Dr. Malcolm Morley said that despite the change presenting exciting opportunities, “The BVA has been very clear that we believe remote prescribing can only be safely delivered where a vet-client-patient relationship has been established. This is an internationally recognized concept, and we are disappointed that the RCVS has decided not to embrace it.”

The new change is scheduled to apply more permanently from early June this year and will be subject to review by the RCVS officials in March of the following year. 

Why Should You Care?

As impactful decisions go, the RCVS has historically never been either fast, nor seen as terribly helpful. This might well be one of the biggest decisions they make.

Telemedicine is, without doubt, one of the great areas where innovation has the chance to do good – potentially opening up access to care for many who don’t use traditional services at present. Over-the-shoulder specialist interventions happening earlier and without a slow referral, and marketing applications are all “no-brainer” positives.

But there is a risk. A potentially huge risk is putting your license to practice on the line using a technology that is, in effect little more than a glorified zoom call.

There is absolutely no question that this could ever be considered an effective way to properly assess a pet’s health status remotely. The lack of “hands-on” clinical assessment precludes this.

Therefore how can any treatment consent be considered informed when the professional is using a best guess to make their determination? 

Just how many vets will be prepared to dispense an NSAID where hydration status is a guess?

And will the Royal College also take responsibility for bad decisions made by practitioners who are (by definition) not able to make informed choices?

These are important questions to answer, some will be answered in front of disciplinary hearings, while others will be answered in the altogether harsher court of public opinion.

This is without a doubt a calculated gamble.

One hopes the positives outweigh the benefits. Time, as always, will tell. But for now, the winners look to be clinics that are willing and able to integrate telemedicine into their daily routines. And of course, those suppliers who have close relationships with brick-and-mortar practices.

So at least the RCVS has baked in a little market protectionism for practices… for now. 😉

Click here to read the full article. 

Noninvasive procedures, microsurgery, and pain management were among some of the leading trends discussed at The North American Veterinary Community’s (NAVC) 40th annual Veterinary Meeting and Expo (VMX) on Jan 18th. 

The multi-day event saw different demonstrations of new veterinary healthcare innovations to benefit the veterinary community this year. Trends in noninvasive procedures (such as to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, and pain management) and micro surgeries (for pocket-sized pets) were specifically well recognized. 

Gene O’Neill, the NAVC CEO, said:

“The reach of the veterinary industry has exponentially expanded over the past four decades and the commitment to providing the very best healthcare to animals of all kinds has been on full display at VMX 2023, from record attendance, education sessions, exhibits, and the incredible excitement we see everywhere.” 

NAVC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Dana Varble added “The really exciting thing about VMX is that it takes place in January, and it really helps veterinarians, veterinary nurses and technicians kick off the year. We come here, we learn about new technologies, new medications, new methods to treat animals, and we take them back to our clinics, knowing we have a whole year to introduce these things to our practice. What that really means for pet owners is we have new ways to help them and their pet live a longer, happier life together.”

Why Should You Care?

VMX was back with a huge bang this year. The event, largely thanks to a huge price drop, saw a reported 27,000+ professionals congregate in Florida for a long weekend of learning, sharing, connecting, and doing what humans do.

This felt like the first time we were emotionally willing and able to connect en masse and it was just fantastic to be able to witness and participate in the event. Investment in driving things forward is only really possible where there is a market willing to buy into and use the emerging tech. So rather than talking about altogether more depressing innovation, like those seen during covid – think of curb-side care, split teams, and the never-ending specter of burnout. It was awesome to see technology and technique enhancements becoming the talking points. 

But the best thing by far? That was something that costs us nothing and gives us much – the simple act of being able to see and hug our dear professional friends old and new. A truly priceless gift. Welcome back vet med!

To find out more, click here.

The Australasian Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC), has announced a record number of candidates in its 2022 Australasian Veterinary Examination (AVE). The 43 successful graduates have doubled the previous record of 21 graduates in 2021. 

The AVE is required for all overseas-qualified veterinarians with a veterinary qualification that the AVBC does not recognize to obtain full veterinary registration to practice in Australia & New Zealand. In the examination, candidates are assessed on their English language skills. They also have to complete a two-part multiple-choice examination, and a practical clinical examination spread over 5 days.

Executive Director of AVBC, Dr. Julie Strous, said, “There is much to celebrate here as this year we effectively welcome half an additional university cohort of veterinarians eligible to register to practice in Australia or New Zealand. The AVE is a valuable pathway to registration for overseas trained vets, allowing them to demonstrate competency to the registration boards and so continue their chosen profession in Australia or New Zealand.” 

The most recent graduates have hailed from around the world – including Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Poland, and Iran! 

Why Should You Care?

This is excellent news that’s worth celebrating. As reports of Australia’s veterinary shortage continue to spread, it’s exciting to see the rise of immigrants obtaining full veterinary registration, and helping to ease the pressure. Australia is without any doubt one of the best places on the planet to practice quality veterinary care.

And, our editor, having done this himself – cannot recommend the experience highly enough. Congratulations to all those entering the Aussie and NZ workforces – you’ve made a great choice. 

To read the full article, click here.

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has opened applications for the 2023 Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant to veterinary mental health researchers.

The grant was set up in memory of Sarah Brown, an RCVS Council member, and mental health campaigner, and since 2019 has provided funding for 5 innovative research projects which address different areas of mental health in veterinary medicine. Past topics have included ‘the impact of racism on mental health’, ‘veterinarian self-criticism and perfectionism’, and ‘neurodiversity’.

Previous winners of the grant, have had opportunities to present their findings at conferences and received support from both the MMI and RCVS for their study. 

Applications for any topic related to veterinary mental health are welcome. However, particular interest will be shown in projects around these themes:

  • Veterinary suicide
  • Mental health, as opposed to well-being/wellness
  • Veterinary nurses, and non-veterinary members of the practice team
  • Understanding the experiences of minoritized groups

Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “Over the past four years, we have been fortunate to support some truly fantastic research projects within the veterinary mental health sphere. Sarah was a strong mental health and wellbeing advocate with a particular passion for ensuring that those working in the veterinary professions were confident, happy, resilient and well supported. We are grateful to Sarah’s family for giving us their blessing and support to help continue her legacy through the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant.

“The grant is open to anyone with a relevant research idea, whether that be a highly experienced researcher, or someone just starting out in their career. All applications are anonymised and will be judged based on their quality, originality and relevance to the profession.

Why Should You Care?

Are you interested in veterinary mental health and looking to research it further? Why not apply for the grant and make an impact on the veterinary profession? 

The grant is open to all, whether you’re an experienced researcher or just beginning your career, you can get involved and most importantly – get funded!

Human factors research is woefully thin on the ground but has the potential to have a tremendous impact when it comes to influencing how we practice medicine and leadership in the future. If you think you have an idea that is worthy of investigation, the worst that can happen is someone says no to giving you some money! So what do you have to lose?

Click here to read the full article.

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